The Times West Virginian

February 26, 2014

Council passes obscenity ordinance

Also receives grant to deal with abandoned buildings

By Colleen S. Good
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Fairmont City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday that will allow indecency and obscenity charges for harassment by telephone, computer and electronic communication devices to be tried in municipal court.

The ordinance will mirror language that is already being used in state code. With the new ordinance, an individual may now be tried in municipal court and fined up to $500.

During the citizens’ petitions part of the meeting, Luke Elser, project manager with the Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center, spoke. The Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center recently awarded Fairmont a Brownfields, Abandoned and Dilapidated Buildings (BAD) Buildings Technical Assistance Grant for technical assistance support valued at $10,000.

Elser explained the basics of the program.

“We started a technical assistance program in the last year through funding with the Benedum Foundation to assist communities dealing with abandoned and dilapidated buildings,” Elser said. Elser said this grant would allow the city to develop a comprehensive BAD Buildings Redevelopment plan, rather than dealing with problem sites one at a time.

Elser emphasized the importance of this issue to the city.

“If you have abandoned buildings, you’re lowering property values. You’re lowering tax values. You’re driving people away from that neighborhood. You’re making that community less viable to move into. You’re hurting business retention. You’re hurting business attraction,” Elser said.

This program aims to change that.

The program will first form a team of city employees and interested volunteers, who will then be trained to identify and research potential BAD building sites. The team will develop an inventory of the sites, and prioritize them. Then they will research property ownership, identify the next steps to redevelop high value sites, and finally will create a BAD buildings redevelopment plan.

Fairmont is one of eight communities to receive the grant this year.

There will be presentations on the grant at the Thursday 12:30 Community Conversations group at The Gatherings, 216 Monroe St., Fairmont, this week.

In other business:

• The City Council passed two resolutions to enter into an agreement with local shelters HOPE Inc. and Scott Place Shelter. HOPE Inc. and Scott Place Shelter are required to receive their funding through a government entity, and city manager Jay Rogers explained that the city will serve as that entity, as they have for the past 20 years.

• Council introduced an ordinance to amend the city’s 2013-2014 annual budget, specifically the general fund. There will be a public hearing on March 11. If it passes, it will be the third revision for the current fiscal year.

• There will be a public hearing March 11 for an ordinance that would add pages to the Fairmont city code.

• Rogers said that they are currently in the planning stages for the second year of Fairmont 101 classes. The classes will begin in April, and there will be an announcement next week. Once the information is available, the city website will contain information on how to sign up.

• The next city council meeting will be March 11 at 7 p.m. at the Public Safety Building. The public is welcome to attend.

Email Colleen S. Good at cgoo@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.